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CATCHING LIGHT

Since a child, Helen has found constant inspiration for poetry in nature and reading and always wanted to celebrate the delight that these have inspired, or the questions they have provoked. As a keen walker and hill climber she has explored many wild places in a number of long-distance treks which have supplied a particularly powerful sense of connectedness that she has wanted to celebrate in language.

 

A life-long teacher and Open University lecturer in English Language and Literature (and other Humanities subjects), Helen has always had an intense commitment to language and enjoy communicating and applying this creatively, believing strongly in the power of poetry to transform and illuminate ‘ordinary’ experience. IShe feels that it is important to be receptive to all the sensory components of language and that poetry should appeal to the ear, as well as to the eye and mind, engaging both heart and intellect. She is a strong believer in an enthusiastic stimulus to poetic composition.

 

Although writing largely for pleasure, with some competition success, Helen has from an early age had poems published in a variety of reputable publications, including more recently, Forward Press, Acumen, and of course, now, Indigo Dreams Publishing. She has also contributed to several anthologies of the Devon-based Moor Poets.

 

Helen regularly reads her poetry at public venues, and has participated in a number of festivals, including Dartington’s Ways with Words.

 

She has enjoyed pursing her own academic interest in literature in an MA examining the Gothic fiction of Mrs. Radcliffe, and several years ago, completed a PhD thesis on literary Romanticism and (the embarrassment of) religious ‘enthusiasm’. She has recently adapted this thesis and had it accepted for publication as a book. Helen finds historical periods and people imaginatively engaging and so the experience of people from different times and places is another powerful source of inspiration in my poetry.

 

Helen is inspired by the challenge to connect with place and person in different contexts, in different ways, and simply celebrating in words what it is to be alive and aware.

 

‘Catching Light’ is her first published collection.

 

 

 

Welsh

 

Skirrid Fawr, Blaen Penant:

names speak land’s history,

its foldings, fractures and collisions,

slow moulding into shapes

the mouth and mind can hold.

Ice scours the rock face,

chisels consonants in skid

and glitter ground to scree – Skirrid

tumbling to Fawr,

and in tear-scarred, seeping caves

a rush and slide

to vowel pools and openings.

 

Blaen Penant: crumbling walls

once raised and stacked

on turned land, now

a name alone, name

haunted by the moan

of air in blind stones

rubbed to friction by the winds

in breath of fricatives

and hiss of sibilance.

Labour carved its syllables,

the muscle haul and working hands

heaved rhythm, measuring

the steps and runs of speech,

landscape’s swoops and arches

following its cadences.

HELEN BOYLES

 

CATCHING LIGHT

 

ISBN 978-1-910834-05-3

 

Indigo Dreams Publishing

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

36 pages

 

£6.00+ P&P UK

 

PUB: 4 JANUARY 2016

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Time, Devon

 

Tunnel through Devonian time

in sunken lanes where red earth

packs the piled stone of old walls,

stains the fleece of grazing sheep,

deepening the warmth of hill

and banks of streams

sharp on their limestone beds.

Climb up from the deep combes

as time unfolds its strata,

leads you out into the sky

through mist and thinning grass,

wind-drifting light.

Return to emptied spaces

where the rivers rise,

birds spill their sad cadences,

see the frozen statements

of our molten origins

where heat of ancient turbulence

has sculpted history

in fists of granite dark against the sun.

 

 

Ancestral Voices

 

Each night sleep loosens thought’s mooring,

casts the mind adrift

in the warped cask of dreams,

onto the stealthy flood of memory.

From the trees’ mass owl calls

rise like smoke shapes from the dusk,

blow their spell in stillness feathered

with forgotten sounds that drift

from the abandoned caves, stir light

in strewn embers from the distant day.

They float us to the forest edge,

where, through its shifting screen

we glimpse fire blaze again, tools gleam,

mouths shape the syllables of speech,

move in command, or love.

 

Sometimes a ragged wind

buffets the mind’s journey,

beats the torn sail in the face,  

troubles with strange currents,

unexpected rocks,

till coming back along the night dark lane,

the eye is guided by a moving light,

the ear arrested by the hushed rush

of a swan’s smooth flight

that, like a greeting from lost gods,

unfolds calm in turbulence,

carves a steady furrow

through imagination’s wandering,

ploughs the swan-road

back to the ancestral hearth.

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Watcher

(after j.a Baker’s ’The Peregrine’)

 

Watch, follow,

and wait.

Watch until the watcher

becomes the watched,

until the follower

becomes the followed,

slow patience

to the stillness of a pool

silvered by the wind,

or a stirring grass,

or a waiting peregrine.

Camouflage with stubble

and with cloud,

or, newt-like, breathe

through your skin

the climate

and the colour of the day.

Wait

until a watchful presence

shades to invisibility,

enter

and lose the world again,

enter

and lose yourself.

Melt through the dividing line

of land and air,

revolve the distances,

flow and shift

from field to sea and sky,

dissolve into the deepest centre

of a falcon’s eye.

 

 

The Monk’s Path

 

On Easter Saturday

we went in search of ancient crosses

printing the steps of the Monk’s Path

scattered over moor’s

vast emptiness.

We followed their directions,

arms pointing East-West;

when we met them close up,

studied their scarred faces,

rubbed their broken arms.

They had been uprooted, robbed, scourged,

left for dead in tombs beneath grass

in rustling kitsvaaens of heather.

Seasons had grown over them;

they had grown blind with time.

Then feet had stumbled on them,

eyes had found,

hands had rescued them,

clamped and splinted broken limbs,

set them upright to bisect the sky,

shred drifting clouds,

sometimes a little skewed

but sturdy in their granite plinths.

Growing, hardening,

enduring;

inscribed with lichen, moss,

they hold out their arms,

link to each other over tramped miles,

point out and forward,

lead the eyes over the horizontals

to unclimbed heights

and distances.

The poems in ‘Catching Light’ affirm and encapsulate the beauty and variety of natural landscape and evoke the distinctive spirit shaped by different weathers, geology, wildlife and human influence. They also celebrate the spirit of literary creativity in attempts to identify with the energies and visions which have driven the writing of various writers and artists within different historical and cultural contexts.

 

 

“Catching Light is a collection that I will keep and treasure. It is extremely good; each poem has a special quality. I hope that these poems get the  attention they deserve.”  

David Scott   

 

“Catching Light pulses with the natural world; vivid and stirring. Helen Boyles has a keen eye for capturing the beauty of the present moment, as well as the ability to transport you through time and history. A delightful read.”  

Jo Brandon

 

Helen amend Boyles